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Internet

Facebook launches Connectivity Lab to 'beam' internet to all in the world

Facebook has released more details about its effort to bring the Internet to all people in the world. The social network has hired aerospace experts and seeks to cover remote areas using drones, lasers and satellites.

Facebook launched a technology hub called Connectivity Lab aimed at developing new technologies to bring the Internet to all people in the world, the US-based social network announced Thursday.

Connectivity Lab would be comprised of experts in aerospace and communications technology, including former members of the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab and Ames Research Center, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on the Facebook website. The team at the lab would also include UK-based company Ascenta, which was building unmanned solar-powered aircraft.

"We've been working on ways to beam Internet to people from the sky," Zuckerberg said, adding that connecting the whole world would require inventing new technology.

The effort is being made through Facebook's Internet.org initiative, which is seeking to connect the more than 70 percent of the world's population currently without Internet access.

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Connectivity Lab was looking at various methods to achieve the Facebook founder's vision. For remote regions with spread-out populations, the social network was planning to use satellites orbiting earth, Facebook's Yael Maguire said in a YouTube video.

Suburban populations could be given access to Internet services through solar-powered planes or drones circling above the weather at a height of 20,000 meters (65,600 feet). Both methods would apply technology called free-space optical communication, which uses infra-red laser beams to transmit data, Maguire said.

Maguire also said that Facebook was still in its infancy and that the Connectivity Lab team had some enormous problems to solve.

uhe/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)

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